Thursday, 24 January 2019 : 2nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Francis de Sales, Bishop and Doctor of the Church, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture speaking to us about the works that the Lord had performed among the people, fulfilling what the Lord Himself has promised to His people, that He would send upon them His salvation and deliverance, His light amidst the darkness of this world, which He fulfilled through His Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, Saviour of all mankind.

He came into this world, fulfilling the promises that God had made all of throughout history, bringing the salvation and light of hope into our midst, and what we heard in the Gospel passage today is the fulfilment of what He had promised through His prophet Isaiah, as well as many other prophets, the promise of the healing from God, where the blind would see again, the deaf would hear again, the mute would speak again, the paralytic would walk and move again, and more.

And even the evil spirits and demons recognised Who He is, the One God had sent into this world to be its Saviour. All the works that the Lord had done, all of them were possible because God Himself was behind those actions, revealing to the whole world the coming of the salvation which He has promised, and fulfilling those words He had spoken to His people earlier, the Covenant He has made and renewed with His chosen people.

And the means by which He did this, once and for all, was revealed in today’s first reading, in the passage taken from the Epistle written by St. Paul to the Hebrews. In that passage, St. Paul explained how the Lord Jesus has embraced the role of our one and true High Priest, linking to the Jewish tradition and the Torah, where the role of the priests of God were highlighted and kept to the time of Jesus. The Lord Jesus is the one and ony perfect Priest far surpassing any others.

That is because, as St. Paul explained, the priests of the time of old Israel up to the time of Jesus’ life offered the sacrificial offerings at the Temple, of the blood of animals, of lambs and goats, and others, for the temporary atonement of the sins of the people. But because the people continued to sin, again and again, disobeying God’s laws and commandments, many times, then the offerings and sacrifices need to be done frequently.

But the Lord Jesus is special unlike all the other priests, because He did not offer the offering of the blood of animals, which although have been chosen from among those that were unblemished, but those were nothing compared to the truly perfect and worthy offering of the Blood of the Lamb of God, Our Lord Jesus Himself. The Lord as our High Priest has offered Himself willingly on the altar of the cross, bearing upon Himself our many sins and wickedness, so that we may be forgiven from those sins and gain eternal life with Him.

And He is willing to go through all the pain and sufferings for this because of the great and boundless love that He has for each and every one of us. He Who created us out of love will not abandon us to destruction, but will do whatever He can do in order to save us and prevent our annihilation. That was why, He did what He had done, bearing the painful cross of suffering for the sake of our salvation.

We have seen how great the love of God is, and therefore now, it is only then right that we, as His beloved ones, should also love Him in the same manner as He has loved us. And today we should emulate the examples shown by one of the Lord’s faithful followers, St. Francis de Sales, a holy bishop and Doctor of the Church, and the founder of the Salesian religious order, whose life is truly an inspiration for each one of us on how we should live up to our faith.

St. Francis de Sales devoted much of his life to the service of God, educating the faithful through his sermons and writings, and by leading a virtuous and prayerful life, through which he convinced many to return to the true Christian faith at the time when many abandoned the Church due to the so-called ‘reformation’. He also helped to reorganise the Church clergy and structure of the local Church where he has been appointed as bishop.

St. Francis de Sales devoted his time and effort, out of the great love that he has for God and for His people, those who has been entrusted to him as their shepherd. Not only that he showed his great faith to the Lord, but even more importantly, he followed the example of Christ, in the role of priesthood that he has embraced, as the representative of the Lord among His people.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, are we then also able to love and serve the Lord as St. Francis de Sales and the many other holy men and women of God had done? Let us all do the same with our own lives, and dedicate ourselves to love the One Who has given us His all, for our salvation, that He was willing to bear the painful cross of our sins, for our sake. May we grow ever more in our love and dedication for Him, day after day, each and every days of our life, from now on. Amen.

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